Center for National and International Studies
“It is evident that the escalating political arrests are now proving to be more detrimental than beneficial to the regime’s interests…”
(Lack of ) Human Rights and Freedoms
The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) issued a statement about the detained professor Gubad Ibadoghlu. The statement said that LSE community is particularly worried by the reports of violence during and after his arrest and that he urgently needs access to medication. “We are calling on the Azerbaijani authorities to release Dr. Ibadoghlu, immediately, demonstrating their commitment to their constitution and international obligations”, the statement said. Moreover, it has been reported that Professor Ibadoghlu’s contract at the LSE was extended for another two years.
A prominent group of scholars, and leaders of civil societies representing a large number of countries signed a document demanding the immediate release of Professor Gubad Ibadoglu.
Additionally, the ambassadors of Germany, Great Britain, the United States, and France, in Azerbaijan, issued a joint statement concerning the detention of Gubad Ibadoghlu. They emphasized that they are “closely following the arrest of Ibadoghlu and call on the Azerbaijani government to ensure that his human rights are respected, including access to medication and fair legal process.”
However, the joint statement of the ambassadors sparked mixed reactions, with some criticizing them for not explicitly demanding his release and perceiving their tone as too lenient.
Exiled Journalist Afgan Muktarli said that the mild tone of the joint statement didn’t come as a surprise to him, citing the recent incident at the US embassy in Baku when a group of activists was forcefully removed, from the event organized by the embassy. Mukhtarli: “The embassies of four big countries made a toothless statement about Gubad Ibadoglu. There was no demand for the immediate release of the illegally arrested party chairman, a scholar, or an innocent person. There was just a call to provide him with medicine and a lawyer. They did not demand immediate release, stop repression, or change reactionary laws. It was a very embarrassing statement on behalf of the United States, Great Britain, France and Germany. Together, they fight against the big dictator in Europe and support the small and nasty dictators in Asia. In fact, the issue was clear the day Ulvi Hasanli was violently detained and handed over to the police at the US Embassy, spitting on all laws.”
Member of the Azerbaijani Popular Front Party Fuad Gahramanli on the other hand, argued that if the regime persists with its repressive policies, it could potentially face sanctions in the future. Gahramanli’s Facebook post: “It is the first time that ambassadors of Western countries have issued such a joint statement. This means that the political repressions in the country are wearing down the patience of the West as well, and they are starting to take a united stand against the situation in Azerbaijan. As it can be seen, the continuation of the policy of repression by the Azerbaijani authorities does not remain ineffective and leads to increased pressure from the international community. Such a difficult situation has already arisen that the West has no expectations of democracy from the Azerbaijani authorities. In this situation, diplomatic pressure seems to be the only solution. If this does not help, the issue of sanctions may be raised at the next stage.”
Gahramanli argued that the gradual weakening of Russia’s influence in the region, in turn, led the Azerbaijani authorities to intensify pressure on the opposition. “However, this increase in political arrests has also heightened Western discontent and created an avenue for international pressure against the regime. These developments indicate that the authoritarian regime has reached a stalemate. It is evident that the escalating political arrests are now proving to be more detrimental than beneficial to the regime’s interests.”
As per the lawyer’s statement, Nazim Beydamirli, a former parliament member known for his critical stance against the regime, is being denied any contact with his family, even by phone. Furthermore, the prison authorities are not permitting any outside food to be delivered to him.
According to the lawyer Elchin Sadigov, the court did not take into consideration the appeal of activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev. On July 28, the Baku Court of Appeal conducted a hearing on the defense’s appeal against the extension of Bakhtiyar Hajiyev‘s prison sentence. The activist personally attended the court session, reiterating that his arrest was politically motivated and lacked legal justification. He asserted that his detention and persecution were a direct consequence of his activities as a human rights defender.
On July 30, a tragic incident occurred where a soldier from the State Border Service lost his life. The soldier, Said Omar oghlu Gurbanov, who had been a dedicated and long-serving member of the Border Troops, suddenly felt unwell, and his health deteriorated while he was returning from his duty at the border post. Despite immediate first aid administered on-site and a call for medical assistance from a nearby settlement, he could not be saved. The State Border Service has reported that an investigation is underway, involving the employees of the Military Prosecutor’s Office, to ascertain the circumstances surrounding the unfortunate event.
Governance and Corruption
On July 28, the Supreme Court made a decision to reduce the sentences of several former officials who were tried together with the former executive head of Kurdemir, Jeyhun Jafarov. This move came as a result of an operation that took place in August 2020, leading to their arrest. The panel of judges, led by Hafiz Nasibov, issued this decision. Among those whose sentences were reduced are Eynulla Novruzov, the former director of Kurdamir District Central Hospital, Mahammad Musayev, the former head doctor of the hospital, Matlab Allahverdiyev, the former head of Education Department, and Rajab Huseynov, the former chief accountant of the institution.
As per the Supreme Court’s ruling, the sentence of the former executive head, Jeyhun Jafarov, was reduced from 6 years to 4 years and 6 months. Tajeddin Novruzov’s sentence was reduced to 4 years and 5 months, and the others’ sentences were reduced to 4 years and 4 months.
On July 25, the Anti-Corruption Department carried out an operation at the Baku Transport Agency, resulting in the arrest of the department head and a consultant. The General Prosecutor’s Office press service revealed the operation’s details. The individuals detained are Vugar Huseynov, the deputy head of the agency’s traffic management department, and Hikmet Valizade, the department’s consultant. Both of them are facing accusations of abuse of power and bribery. According to the prosecutor’s office, it is alleged that they accepted a total of 16,500 manat in bribes from different individuals in exchange for facilitating procedures related to the organization of parking areas in the capital.
August 1, 2023